Ruth Bancroft Garden

A cactus blossoms at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut, Creek, California

A cactus blossoms at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, Calif.


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Sun-loving succulents star at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, Calif., about 25 miles east of San Francisco. More than 2,000 kinds of aloes, cacti, and other water-hoarding plants—from tiny sedums to agaves with 25-foot-tall flower stalks—fill this renowned 3.5-acre planting, begun in 1972.

Golden barrel cacti, pink-edged echeverias, and other dazzlers are grouped by color, texture, and form for maximum dramatic impact. Drought-tolerant trees and shrubs such as red-barked manzanitas, palms, and several kinds of pines provide a backdrop for the succulents.

The garden reopens on April 10—the middle of prime flowering season—after a weeklong closure. "The cacti put on a show of intense reds, oranges, yellows, and bicolors," says Brian Kemble, the garden's horticulture director, "and the clouds of white yucca blooms are spectacular." (925) 210-9663,

Photography by Saxon Holt/Photobotanica

This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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